Research shows that, on average per employee, more than 7 hours a week is lost due to poor communication.

Our research corroborates this. We do a ‘state of execution’ survey with our clients to assess their strategy-execution-gap. What is the most frequent cause for the gap? Clarity of communication.

why clarity is required:

Once “managers” realise there’s a break in communication, they start “managing” more. This means more check-ups and a requirement for smaller and more frequent tasks. These are all robbers of time.

“Managing” causes more conflict, more disappointment and ultimately, a breakdown of trust. This lack of trust basically arms the robbers of time with a machine gun – it exacerbates any challenge we thought we had.

But the conundrum – how much clarity should we create? “Smaller and more frequent tasks” are surely clear?

Meet the cone of clarity.

the cone of clarity:

different levels of clarity:

“Clear” means different things in different contexts, often depending on timelines. The thin end of the cone (the immediate future) is like a high-res HD images, with no room to negotiate. The broad end (the longer term) is fuzzy and almost translucent; it can stretch in its interpretation of practical application. But clarity is necessary throughout, it just means something different depending on what timeline you consider.

Let’s go through the three nodes briefly.

Node 1:To be clear at a task level means there’s no doubt about what you must do when you sit down at your desk. This is also applicable for delegating tasks – there should be no ambiguity about how to move forward.

Node 2: OKRs are all about clarity, it’s built into the fundamentals of the methodology. But it’s not going to tell you what you need to do when you sit down at your desk. It tells you what the outcome needs to be. How you move forward needs a bit of brainstorming.

Node 3:Strategy should be directional and thematic. It’s descriptive enough to provide direction but open enough to enable the organisation to be responsive.

Start by using Node 3 (your long-term strategy) to provide direction.

Then use Node 2 (your OKRs) to ensure progress.
Lastly, use Node 1 (your tasks) to empower actions.

some OKR tips:

Because the biggest gap and misunderstanding is clarity in OKRs, here are three small steps to take when articulating OKRs:

  1. Articulate the outcomeWe want all actions to add value to the business. Focus on the outcomes instead of the actions or tasks. What do you want the outcome or impact on the business to be?
  2. Define ‘done’Conflict arises when one party thinks something is complete and another believes there’s still loads to do. And so the gap increases… Clearly defining what ‘done’ looks like reduces this risk.
  3. Be specificSpecific is not the same as detailed – you don’t have to be detailed. But be specific about how to measure something, or by when it needs to be done.

If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.

Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!

Want to do less and achieve more?

Sign up and get practical advice and insights straight to your inbox every month.

Do less and achieve more.

We send out a monthly note to share some of our wisdom.

This is what some readers have told us:

Superb.

Super practical.

Always of value.

This is the best mass mailer that lands in my inbox.

These principles extend to beyond work.

Hands down the best newsletter I’ve read.

send me inspiration and advice